This month, there are two burning themes – of men’s health and cancer. November is focused on both. And since I treat cancer patients – even late stage cancer patients, I am seeing the link between suppression of emotions and stress linked to the trigger for cancers. A lot of senior leaders are my patients. Most of them are men. They take it in their stride that they need to provide for their families financially. At some level, this makes them unavailable emotionally. Family and social conditioning of being the provider blocks them at a subconscious level from being emotionally available, sensitive or sharing their traumas. Men don’t cry, men don’t share deep emotions, are some of the unfortunate conditioning stigmas that we’re seeing even though men have become a lot more emotionally sensitive. Due to suppression of emotions and having the load of the family on their shoulders, a large majority of men are suffering in their health because their inflammation levels are rising. High inflammation levels is one of the primary triggers for different types of cancer, apart from being the triggers for a heart attack, stroke or kidney issues.
So when you look at your spouse and expect him to adhere to his role as the provider, also pause and think: there are emotions he may have which he feels he is not allowed to share because he thinks he cannot. Women are much higher in EQ, let’s look around at our fathers, brothers, spouses, children and friends and sit down and have heart-to-heart conversations with them. Behind the busy-ness, abrupt behaviour, there is a human being waiting to be heard. Often, men run from one task to the other and keep themselves extremely busy because they do not want to confront their own emotions. Having an understanding friend, child, spouse/partner makes them feel safe. Just like women want to feel safe, the role of other genders is to make men feel safe as well. Ask him out for a cup of green tea/glass of wine for no reason. Fix a date midweek. Give a kiss on the cheek when you’re passing by at home, supposedly running around after the kids. A lot of mothers get so involved in playing the role of mother that we forget to be companions and partners to our spouses. So the next time your guy pretends to be too busy, just make him sit down and hold his hand and say, “Thank you for all that you are doing for us, for me. I just want to say I am here for you if you ever need anything.”
Of course he will be weirded out. But do this a couple of times and he will start feeling emotionally safe and secure and will start sharing his emotions with you. The change always starts with our own behaviour. When we become more emotionally sensitive and express it, we get the same back. Remember, being emotionally sensitive is not just about sharing your own traumas. It is also about reaching out to those you love to help them feel safe to share theirs. Be the good listener too.